Losing Internet Neutrality: The Worst Is Yet To Come

Video @ 5 minutes

We are two weeks away from losing internet neutrality. Monday June 11th is the date that the reigns of the internet are handed over to the corporations in this country. Expect them to wring out every possible dollar out of the internet while severely limiting access and freedom of movement while online.

In short, within several years expect the internet to greatly resemble that bane of American culture, cable (or satellite) TV. Those of us who were around some 40 years or so ago were thrilled to finally break out of the “3 networks plus some often boring public” television box we were in to get the promises of spectacular television from far off vistas. Ball games day and night for some of us and for others maybe operas and lectures. The future looked bright.

But as is the usual course of American business, money stepped in and called the shots. So we went from what looked like a bright era that competition could bring to consolidation and corporate philosophy of control it all. We went from  a flickering of a renaissance to a dark ages in a couple of decades. 

The major networks basically own all the cable channels, including the news outlets. So the variety of opinion and entertainment went from a pallet of colors to shades of gray. Even the religious channels only give one option and that is Christianity.  

When the internet is handed over for corporate control you can bet that plans have been made to take the internet from the vivid pallet of voices and interests it is today to something that corporations can control. And of course one of the things that the corporations want to control most is any voices that dissent from their control. 

Controlling the internet adds the last piece in the fist that will hammer citizens into submission through controlling our communications. Up until June 11th, the internet has been pretty open.

The illustration I often use is the hand slowly rolling into a fist. Decades ago magazines consolidated under fewer and fewer owners. The vast majority of magazines were corporatized and controlled. The pinky finger went down to start the fist. Then newspapers were consolidated under the likes of Gannet and Tribune Company. The ring finger joined the pinky in starting the fist.

Once the newspapers were consolidated and Republicans had control of the FCC making new rules to allow even greater consolidation within markets acted like an accelerant to the fires of corporate consolidation. Radio was next and they went quickly to the likes of Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). Within a short space of time America’s thousands of radio stations were speaking with about three voices. 

NPR was a strange case of this consolidation. A network of radio stations that while not corporately owned was soon shown to be a group that could be manipulated with political pressure and was. Thus radio was consolidated and the middle finger joined the pinky and ring finger in slowly forming the fist.

At the same time the elephant in the room, television, was being consolidated in a couple of different ways. At the cable level, networks bought up the cable stations thus greatly limiting competition. In a different vein corporations like Sinclair Broadcasting, Tribune Company and Nexstar bought up local stations across the country. This has led to a major demising of local news and involvement. The index finger joins the other three fingers in the fist. Even at this point the near fist can do great damage to citizens.

But the crown jewel in the corporate quest for control over America’s communications has been the internet. BINGO. As we warned prior to the 2016 election, if the Republican became president his party would control the FCC. Target #1 for the FCC would be to put corporate America in charge of the internet. June 11th the thumb curls in with the other four fingers to form the fist that will beat true freedom of the press and speech out of this country.

How convenient the internet should be corporatized at a time when we have a president who is constantly at war with media. While there seems to be some show of resistance in buckling to this president there are also lots of signs of the corporations delivering just what he wants. Controlling the internet will surely help.

It won’t happen day 1. In fact there will probably be lawsuits that will delay the real implementation for a few years. There is also a possibility that a Democratic congress and a Democratic president could drag us back before we go over the falls. Unfortunately the way it looks right now, especially with corporate money “contributing” to campaigns, I would plan for the worst. Let’s just say the wheels are in motion.

A sidelight to this is a strange meme that was going around on Wednesday. The meme was “Is Democratic media too focused on the Russian scandal?” I heard this question from two different online sources Wednesday and then later from an independent candidate for an Iowa House seat. 

My answer was “What “Democratic” media?” The reference was to MSNBC which as far as I know is far, far from being owned, operated or influenced by Democrats. Of course what it comes down to is the three evening shows and their over-focus on Russia while often ignoring more relevant issues. But MSNBC is owned by NBC which is owned by Comcast. Comcast is a very, very conservative company that could turn MSNBC into a FOX clone tomorrow. 

MSNBC is in no way run or influenced by Democrats. The current lineup of shows is there to do one thing: maximize profits. Being the only left wing shows in the vast bleak landscape of corporate cable TV you would expect they would garner some eyeballs.

Remember also that Comcast as one of the largest internet providers in the US will be one of the major winners when internet neutrality ends. They have a fiscal stake in electing Republicans. It helps their bottom lines. But just to illustrate that MSNBC is not run by or for Democrats think of this:

MSNBC owner Comcast will be one of the big winners when net neutrality ends. Trying to save net neutrality has been one of the major burning issues for the Democratic Party. How often has the pending loss of internet neutrality been covered on MSNBC’s supposed “Democratic” shows? I don’t know the answer, but I have never heard it covered. My bet is Comcast doesn’t want it covered so it won’t be.

Never forget that when a revolution or a coup happens the new regime immediately seizes control of the means of communication. Control the message.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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